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Hidden added sugar overload

CHOICE report finds better labelling can help Aussies cut up to 38 kilograms of hidden added sugar each year

24 April 2017

CHOICE has released a report today which finds that if consumers could identify added sugars on food packs they could avoid 26 teaspoons of sugar each day and up to 38.3 kilograms a year.[1]
 
“Leading national and international health advice is clear - people should be reducing consumption of added sugars. But right now it’s nearly impossible to identify what products are laden with added sugar,” says CHOICE’s Campaigns and Policy Adviser Katinka Day.
 
“It’s time added sugars were clearly labelled on processed food products so consumers can make more informed choices with their daily diet,”  
 
CHOICE found that savoury processed foods and products claiming to be healthy are some of the worst offenders when it comes to added sugar.
 
“Although McCain's Healthy Choice Apricot Chicken presents as a healthy option, it contains more than six teaspoons of sugar, most of which is added sugar,”[2] says Miss Day.
 
“Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain spruiks its credentials as an athletes’ breakfast, yet one small serve contains over 2.7 teaspoons of sugar – almost all of this is added sugar.[3]
 
“With over 27 million 290g boxes of Nutri-Grain sold in 2014 alone, each laden with 77.43 grams of added sugar, Kellogg’s is serving up our little iron men a staggering 2.12 million kilograms of sugar each year.”[4]
 
CHOICE found that swapping Nutri-Grain to Uncle Toby’s Weeties for breakfast will save you 2.7 teaspoons of added sugar each day.[5]
 
When it comes to dinner, switching from McCain's Healthy Choice Apricot Chicken for Michelle Bridges Salmon Fish Cakes will help you avoid 5.2 teaspoons of added sugar.[6]
 
Flavoured yoghurts are also products to watch. Switching from Gippsland’s Raspberry and Coconut Yoghurt to Gippsland’s Organic Natural Yoghurt and adding your own raspberries and coconut can save you 3.8 teaspoons of added sugar.[7]

“At the moment you have to be a food scientist to identify added sugars in processed foods. Consumers in Australia have no clear way of knowing how much sugar has been added to a food,” says Ms Day.
 
“That’s why we want Food and Health Ministers to take action and require added sugars to be clearly labelled on food products.”
 
CHOICE’s report comes as State, Territory and Federal Food and Health Ministers are set to discuss sugar labelling at the Forum of Food Regulation meeting on April 28.[8]
 
“The fact is it’s all but impossible for the average shopper to make an informed choice about added sugar in their diet,” says Ms Day.
 
Consumers can read the full report and take action at: choice.com.au/addedsugar  
 
Media contact:
Tom Godfrey, CHOICE Head of Media: 0430 172 669

About CHOICE
Set up by consumers for consumers, CHOICE is the consumer advocate that provides Australians with information and advice, free from commercial bias. As vital today as when we were founded in 1959, CHOICE continues to fight for consumers and uncover the truth. By mobilising Australia’s largest and loudest consumer movement, CHOICE fights to hold industry and government accountable and achieve real change on the issues that matter most.

Background
Over half of Australians are exceeding the World Health Organisation’s recommendation to reduce added sugar to 10% of daily energy in-take.[9]
 
Some teenagers are consuming 38 teaspoons of added sugar per day, equivalent to the sugar in four cans of Coke,[10]
 
An earlier investigation by CHOICE found the food industry is using 43 different words on ingredient lists to disguise added sugar including: glucose solids, corn syrup, panela, molasses and elderberry juice concentrate.[11]

[1] CHOICE 2017 report - End the Sugar-Coating
[2] Ibid
[3] Ibid
[4] Ibid
[5] Ibid
[6] Ibid
[7] Ibid
[8] http://foodregulation.gov.au/internet/fr/publishing.nsf/Content/Forum
[9] Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2015, Australian Health Survey: Consumption of Added Sugars 2011-2012
[10]  Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2015, Australian Health Survey: Consumption of Added Sugars 2011-2012
[11]  https://www.choice.com.au/food-and-drink/nutrition/food-labelling/articles/added-sugar-on-food-labels-070815